I was waiting at the window to draw some money from a bank. There were a lot of people in the line, and since I wasn’t in any hurry, I preferred to linger on in the air conditioned lounge until the long queue has spent itself a little more. Presently a middle aged gentleman, immaculately dressed, rather overdressed for an Indian summer, came to the sofa, gave me an aristocratic smile, and bumped into it. I gave him a little more area of operation, returned an unconvincing smile, and secretly eyed him. Expensive denim trousers, a designer sea blue full shirt, sleeves rolled up. Clean shaven chins except a goatee, rimless photo sensitive glasses, a new generation huge wrist watch, and a leather purse, big for a purse, small for a portfolio bag. An image of contentment and pride that new wealth has given Indians to cherish as status symptom.
‘How d’ U do’, he said still looking at the bunch of documents he had in his hands.
I returned ‘how d’ U do’ with the same formality.
Do you belong here? he asked.
Yes, I do.
You see, I used to come here to see Sai Baba at least once a year. So I bought a flat here to stay in some comfort. Now he is gone, so I would like to sell it away. I bought it for ten lakhs, spent another ten to add some more conveniences. I would give it away for around fifteen. Single bed A/C apartment on the fourth floor. Quite comfortable.
Oh, I see. So you are here to seal some property deal.
You can say that. Sai Baba was a genuine holy man. So I used to come to see him. Now there is no need to come here. So before I leave the country and go to California to settle down with my son, I thought I would come and dispose of this property. But you see, Indians have no proper sense of value. They are asking it for no more than eight lakhs!
So you are kicking off to west. I said matter-of-factly.
What is here in India that I drag myself around until I eat dust? You have never gone to the west. Once you go there you will hate India. Look at their roads, their discipline, their science, their literature, look at their liberated society, look at their administration, their economic strength…. Tell me any aspect of their life which you can remotely compare with yours.
Obviously. You are correct. The west can not at all compare with anything genuinely Indian.
So you agree with me.
Can not agree any better.
Then what are you doing here? Come out there, and live a life of comfort and plenty.
I am looking for my genuine India. The India you see around today is a superimposition of the west. The imitation can not be as good as the original. The true, eternal India can not be seen by the eyes that sees comfort and plenty as the only purpose of life.
I noticed that the queue had substantially reduced. I excused myself to join the line.
Then I went to the General Hospital. I had to meet a doctor there. I parked my scooter in the shade and looked around to guess where exactly I could see him. Suddenly I overheard two persons talking. They had both passed their middle age, lower middle class as far as economic status is concerned. One is either from a village in UP or Bihar, the other from the suburbs of Hyderabad, as I gathered from their conversation. They both spoke Hindi. Both came to be here in Prasanthinilayam for Sivaratri. The Bihar person developed some health problem, and stayed on for a check. Probably they were just acquainted with each other. I will reproduce their conversation.
H – Ram Ram bhayya.
B – Ram Ram bhayya.
H – When are you leaving?
B – What to do bhayya, suddenly my old lower abdominal problem recurred. I thought I should see someone here in Sai Baba’s hospital. They suspect all is not well with my kidney. Human body
you know is home to a thousand diseases. But why are you here?
H – I have got my wife for a check. She got chest pain again. I left her with the doctor and came out.
B – Sairam will look after her. In our village people said Sairam is gone. I told them, where will He go? He is always present everywhere.
H – Yes bhayya, Ram to shaswat hai (Ram is eternal), Ram is inside you, inside me, and outside also.
B – Therefore bhayya, my pain recurred here. If I had it in my village where would I go? Sairam gave me the pain here so that I can see a doctor here. How kind is our Sairam.
H – My wife wanted to come here for Sivaratri. I told her she had chest pain, if something happens ? You know what she said? She said, ‘If I die taking God’s name, I will get moksha. Is there anything better than that?’
B – Yes brother, what can be better than that? Inside, He creates a disease; outside, He takes us to a Doctor! Look at His leela.
H – Happiness Ram gives, pain Ram gives, then He alone saves you from pain. Why does He do all that bhayya?
B – Arre bhayya, happiness He gives, because He wants us to be happy. Then pain also He gives so that we do not forget Him. But when we cry, His heart melts, and He saves.
Ah, what excellent homegrown solution! I was enthralled. A suburban dweller saying God is eternal! And he isn’t quoting anybody; his conviction was apparent in his eyes and his voice. A nearly unlettered woman assures her husband she would get liberation if she has God’s name on her lips at the last moment, and tells him that it is the best thing to happen to a person. A villager knows pain and suffering are both God’s gifts for our own good. His God is both human, for you must ask his help if you need it, and divine, for He knows all, loves all, can do all. None of them have any ‘stress’ either with a ‘heart problem’ or with long standing ‘abdominal problem’, while even our 3rd class kids suffer from ‘exam stress’ in our big cities. Both of them are reconciled to pain, suffering, and death, and need no psychiatrist for ‘management of reality’. This is my true India.
H – But then why so many people suffer so long, almost all life?
B – My old mother used to tell me, ‘Son, if you have any problem, first tell Ram, then if you want, others’. But now we never tell Ram, we go to a doctor first, and if the doctor can not do anything, we scold Ram! We first go to adalat (law court) to settle a quarrel, never go to Ram!
H – That is true brother. When my younger brother quarrelled with me to partition our old house, my wife went to our puja room, and prayed to Sairam to solve it. Whole night she sat there praying. Next morning my brother came to her, fell at her feet and begged to forgive him! Look what Ram can do! If I had gone to court!
B – It takes more than two days to come here from our village. We got food for one full day. Next day lunch time the train stood in the platform for a very short time. I could not get down to buy food. What to do ? Just before the train began moving away a young man came to us and gave us two packets of puri, and said, ‘Uncle I went to get some food for myself. I noticed you did not have any food, and you were not going down. So I got for you too’. You see, he did not take any money for that! We thanked Ram, and then thanked him. He was in our compartment, and we became very good friends. Who asked him to get food packets for us? Sairam only. In his heart.
H – All Ram’s work brother. He is in everyone’s heart; so if you love Him, everyone will love you.
I was stunned at the utter simplicity of God-man relationship. If you love God, everyone will love you. The whole society, which has no borders, is a single family. You do not need in India a Jesus, whom you can crucify for telling inconvenient truths, to ask you to love your neighbour. An unknown young man gets down the train, and buys food for you without your asking, and even refuses to accept money for it. In the school of life in India love, affection, unselfishness, mutuality, neighbourliness are an integral part of a beautiful canvas where man and God move hand in hand. Here philosophies are lived unconsciously, not left to debate halls of universities.
At this time I saw the doctor coming out. So I went to see him.
That was another India, my eternal, genuine India. This India does not live in metros, in high rise blocks, in university halls, in state of the art labs, corporate offices, or power corridors of politics. That India, my own India, lives in my heart, in my noble convictions, my beliefs, my understanding, my love for God, and my love for my fellowmen; the India where sages walk unknown, Avatars come to mingle with men, people celebrate a birth and a death with equal élan, and where even unlettered people live philosophies perfected over millennia. We have successfully driven this India out of our minds, and the consequences have been fear, violence, loneliness, disease and insecurity. Bhagwan came to revitalise this India. The other India which the gentleman in the bank was running away from is a garbage heap of undigested imported stuff, alien to the India that the villager from Bihar, and the gentleman from Hyderabad suburb live, the never-dying real Bharat which was so dear to Bhagwan. May we deserve to live in this punyabhumi bharat.